Call Center Recordings

Idle question: When you call, or get a call, from a call center you usually get the “This call may (is) be(ing) recorded” message. What’s standard operating procedure from the center if you refuse? Let’s use a debt collection call as an example since they have a vested interest in actually talking to you as opposed to the gas company who doesn’t care if I hang up when I called to complain. But if they call and say “this call may be recorded” and I say “I refuse to be recorded”, where do they go from there? Just say “All righty then” and hang up? Or can they stop the call from being recorded? Just lie and assume it’ll never come up anyway?

Before anyone mentions it, I know this wouldn’t be a bright plan to avoid collection calls for multiple reasons. I just assume there’s a page in the handbook for how to handle this.

I was wondering about this same thing today, been reading the pit? I’d like to know what happens if I call a company and refuse to be recorded. Here in Maryland both sides have to give consent, but if I call then I’m forced to give in if I want to talk to anyone.

It’s like a website, when you sign in if you say no to their terms you can’t get in.

I guess you could always correspond by writing

I’m speaking only from my personal experience in call centers. The agents on the phone have no control of which calls are recorded. The calls are recorded randomly and the recordings are used to measure specific performance goals set by the management of the call center. (For example, did the agent follow the script? Did the agent offer further assistance? Did the agent use the customer’s name x number of times?)

A set number of the recorded calls are later reviewed with the agent by their supervisor. How well the agent matched the ideal performance set by the company or client is the basis for future pay increases. Additionally, many call centers monitor calls (sometimes live, sometimes recorded) with an external Quality Assurance person/team.

My guess is that if you were to refuse to do business until the recording is turned off, that the phone agent would have no choice but to terminate the call and place notes on the account stating the customer’s refusal to co-operate.

That’s why I specifically mentioned debt collection – in which case, their interest in me “getting in” far exceeds mine (assuming a case where I’m avoiding collections).

At our call center, there’s no option to not be recorded, so if I had a customer who said that, I’d just say “alrighty” and keep going :slight_smile: What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?

I will say that it is always in your best interest to have your call recorded unless you are being abusive to the employees. What we do with the calls is:
[li]Monitor our employees for quality of service[/li][li]If the system drops an order, we can re-create it with the recorded phonecall[/li][li]Verify where mistakes were made if a customer gets the wrong item[/li][/ul]

Which in some states is illegal.

Where I work all calls are recorded and all callers must be informed of this. If a caller doesn’t want to be recorded, then they have to correspond by mail. There is no “opt out” of the recording. The same applies to outbound calls.

This is done moreso to protect the company than the customer, although it can work both ways in the event of an employee making a mistake.

Wait, you mean they are actually recording the call for quality control purposes?

Does this mean I’m being videotaped in Wal-Mart for my own safety?

I can very much confirm the ‘monitoring for quality of service’ part of recording calls. One of the systems I worked on a couple of years back was for matching customer-terminated/cancelled accounts with a list of contacts from that account to the call center. The calls for all such matching records were played back by account representaives to determine if the call itself may have led to the closing of the account, in other words if the customer cancelled their account because the customer service representative had pissed them off. I am assuming any such matches would have led to the termination or reprimand of the customer service representative.

Cite? The recording laws I’ve encountered indicate that as long as both parties are aware that the call is/may be recorded it’s legal. Some states even allow it if only one party is aware of it. And I’m pretty sure there was a SCOTUS case addressing expectation of privacy on cell phone calls (there being none since they transmit like radios, or something) but that may only have criminal implications and not civil.

From the call center side, I’ve hung up on customers who tell me they’re recording the call because I don’t consent to their recording me. I say “I don’t consent to being recorded” and disconnect.

I agree with Otto, so long as both parties know the call is being recorded, it is legal. If one party does not wish to be recorded, they are free to hang up. But I don’t think they can force the other party to terminate the recoding, yet continue the call.

From here:

*"The U.S. federal law allows recording of phone calls and other electronic communications with the consent of at least one party to the call. A majority of the states and territories have adopted wiretapping statutes based on the federal law, although most have also extended the law to cover in-person conversations. 38 states and the D.C. permit recording telephone conversations to which they are a party without informing the other parties that they are doing so.

12 states require, under most circumstances, the consent of all parties to a conversation. Those jurisdictions are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington."

In particular, California Penal Code Section 632(a) says *“Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished [etc etc]”. *

(All bolding mine).
It seems like consent, not just knowledge of the recording, is required in some states. If a non-consenting party stays on the line and you keep recording, it sounds like it’s still illegal to me.

IANAL, etc.

Pl;ease read which post I replied to in the previous quotes.

Originally Posted by Litoris
At our call center, there’s no option to not be recorded, so if I had a customer who said that, I’d just say “alrighty” and keep going What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?

Telling them you’re not recording and then still recording them is illegal in some states.

It depends on the definition of “consent”. For purposes of telephone recording, the FCC recognizes 3 types of consent:

So as far as federal law is concerned, notification is considered consent. But before we conclude that state laws are different, I would like to see the relevant definitions for consent in the states that have a requirement for it.

In the call center I worked at (in WA) all calls were recorded. There was no way for the CSA to stop the recording device at all. Even the general managers’ calls were recorded.

One of my jobs was to listen to a huge chunk of these calls and give the CSA’s and their managers feedback. As you can imagine, this wasn’t very exciting.

I never heard a customer demand that we stop recording his or her call. We did have customers (usually in escalated situations) who said that they were recording the call on their end and we’d just say “ok” and return to the conversation.

I’ve seen a couple of recording systems (video and dvd, both for recording audio only), which have been in back rooms, well away from the advisers and locked up. There’s only one way you could make a call out of those buildings without being recorded, that is using your cell phone.

If the customer specifically wanted to be called and not recorded, I (personally) don’t see the problem calling them in this way, as long as the call is NOT of a professional nature (which happens :wink: ).

My understanding of that quote is that any of those 3 are sufficient for a legal recording of a conversation. The first of the three is consent, the second is verbal notification. So I wouldn’t characterize it as federal law recognizing notification as consent, but rather notification is just as sufficient as consent to legally record the conversation.

In the OP’s hypothetical, however, the caller (or whomever) specifically says they “refuse to be recorded”. Surely that would be considered lack of consent no matter what the legal definition?

We record all calls for our benefit as well as the client’s (plus they are used for performance evaluations). One of the items we must give our callers is the following advisory, which must be read verbatim:

Please carefully review this itinerary and notify us of any agency errors or discrepancies within 24 hours from the time of booking. After 24 hours any fees incurred due to a reissue will be the responsibility of the traveler. All voluntary changes at any time are subject to airline, agency, and program rules and penalties.

By recording the calls, this ensures that the agent did do his/her job and issued the advisory accordingly, so if the caller claims we made a mistake or that we didn’t tell him or her about cancellations, a supervisor can review the call to find out if this advisory was given and also determine if the caller did, in fact, give us different flight information than what he or she really wants. All too often callers will try to pull the wool over our eyes and claim that the agent made a mistake on the dates. 9 times out of 10 a review of the call will reveal that the caller really just wanted to make a voluntary change and wanted us to think we screwed up so they won’t have to pay any fees. On occasion the recordings will reveal that the agent was in the wrong, which clears the caller of having to pay for any cancellation/exchange fees.

Yeah it seems that when the phone recording at the beginning says the call may/is being recorded for quality assurance, if the person doesn’t hang up that pretty much means you’re okay with it. Kinda like an unspoken consent.